Update: computer-generated Holden Malibu mockup added.
Just hours after announcing plans for a live online broadcast of its unveiling, a single image of Chevrolet's all-new 2012 Malibu mid-size sedan has leaked onto the internet.
The image is significant to Australian buyers because it also represents the first full look at Holden's replacement for the slow-selling Epica.
Late last month, it was announced that the Holden Malibu will arrive in Australia sometime in 2012.
The image, which appeared (we presume mistakenly) on General Motors' media site today, reveals a strong and curvaceous sedan that will add some mid-size sizzle to the Holden line-up, challenging Ford's strong-selling Mondeo.
The Malibu's debut next year cannot come too soon for Holden. So far in 2011, Ford has sold 1961 of its Mondeo mid-size cars, while Holden has waved goodbye to just 262 Epicas.
It's a different story in the small car segment however, with Holden's Cruze sedan selling 7446 so far this year, compared to 3140 sales for Ford's Focus range.
“The Malibu will play an important role within the Holden line-up, providing a spacious and efficient four-cylinder alternative for Australian customers,” Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mike Devereux said in March.
“It will be a standout on the road, with striking styling in the same vein as recent additions to the GM portfolio, including the new-generation Barina and Cruze hatch. Like the Cruze, Malibu will surprise customers with its array of clever technologies and features.”
A second teaser image for the Malibu was also released today, offering a second look at the new model's centre stack. Here we can see that the touchscreen housing will swing up to reveal extra storage space.
The Chevrolet Malibu will appear at the New York International Auto Show between April 23 and May 1.
Update: our computer-generated mockup below offers a look at how the Malibu might look when it arrives in Australia.